THERE ARE FOUR SEGMENTS TO THE VIDEO – JUST KEEP WATCHING.
Nuka has been busy for the past month learning how to behave with trainers before he moves to the Sea Otter Exhibit and meets his new raft, or sea otter family. Despite his young age and short time at the Aquarium, the little otter’s training is progressing in leaps and bounds.
Nuka quickly learned to gently accept food from people with his paws and to leave and return to the water on cue. He also follows trainers as directed during training sessions and stands patiently on a scale during checkups.
He is still practicing paw “target,” which is one of the most important management behaviors the Aquarium’s mammalogists teach animals under their care. Mastering the target behavior will help Nuka participate in his own care, like learning how to lie patiently while staff touch him during weekly veterinary exams.
The target behavior requires Nuka to hold his paws, nose and attention on a designated point, like a foam buoy, for an extended period of time. This proves to be challenging for the energetic little sea otter that seems to be easily distracted by the world around him, but his performance has improved quickly.
Recognizing his progress, the Aquarium’s mammalogist graduated Nuka from his quarantine pool today to a pool that adjoins the Aquarium’s Sea Otter Exhibit, and shares water with the Aquarium’s other sea otters.
Nuka will get acquainted with sea otters Judge, Mojoe and Schuster through a fence for about a week. Once the animals get to know each other behind the scenes, the trainers will open the gate to let the newest member of the raft swim to the main pool in the Sea Otter Exhibit for the first time.
The sea otter pup only weighs 35 pounds right now, approximately half the size of the other otters, but that will not stop him from shaking things up for his exhibit mates. The Aquarium’s mammalogists plan a gradual introduction, in part, to ensure that the energetic little pup’s antics do not overwhelm the other adult otters.
Visitors will be able to view Nuka’s training progress during daily Sea Otter Feeding Presentations at the Aquarium later this spring.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is open every day this spring from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit aquarium.org or call (541) 867-3474.